Ventifoil retrofit ship starts operation

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 18 February 2020


Ankie a 3,600dwt general cargo ship owned by of Jan van Dam Shipping has become the first vessel retrofitted with eConowind’s innovative Ventifoil sail assist system.

During the docking of the Ankie in January 2020 at the Royal Niestern Sander shipyard in the Netherlands, the first retrofit eConowind Ventifoil wind-assist system was installed, six months after signing the contract.


“The good and close cooperation between eConowind, Van Dam Shipping and Niestern Sander resulted in a pioneering project, which was completed within the planned installation period”, stated Bart Volgers, Director Ship Repair, Royal Niestern Sander.

The modular Ventifoil units are in the form of wings with vents and an internal fan that use boundary layer suction for maximum effect. This installation features two, 10-meter wings that will generate significant force allowing the vessel to reduce motor power and thus save energy. In a second step, the units will be extended by a further six meters.

The Ankie made its first voyage with the two wings installed, sailing for Wagenborg from Delfzijl to Hamburg, onwards to Norway and then back to Rotterdam. A Wagenborg spokesman said, “We take active part in the shipping industry’s de-carbonising energy transition. Together with our stakeholders, such as our affiliated captain owners, clients, investors, employees and suppliers, we accept sustainability challenges to reduce our environmental footprint. We are happy Jan van Dam, who has been sailing for Wagenborg over 26 years now, picked up the glove resulting in this Ventifoil project.”

For eConowind BV, located in Groningen, the Netherlands, it is the first commercial installation of their Ventifoil system. The wind-assist system was developed over the past three years supported by an EU backed grant and this first voyage marks a significant milestone for the company in bringing their technology to a shipping market eager to deploy credible decarbonisation solutions.

Classification society, RINA carried out the design approval, foil production and construction supervision together with the commissioning protocol preparation. “This project fits perfectly with the strong focus RINA has on innovative technologies that contribute to an environmentally friendlier shipping industry” commented Pino Spadafora, EMEA Marine Commercial Director at RINA.

This first voyage is a big step for Jan van Dam, who has been hoping to combine modern shipping with wind propulsion for almost 40 years. “We expect to show in the WASP research project this first step will be economically feasible. We are hoping to set the next steps as well in a new-to-build ship in the coming years, getting step-by-step into low and even zero emission shipping” Jan van Dam states.

The WASP (Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion) project is funded by the Interreg North Sea Europe program, part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and brings together universities and wind-assist technology providers with ship owners to research, trial and validate the operational performance of a selection of wind propulsion solutions.

“We are confident that such an innovative company as van Dam Shipping will manage to get the most out of the system and we are really excited to share the results in the coming months.” stated Frank Nieuwenhuis, CEO of eConowind. Both eConowind and van Dam Shipping are convinced the Ventifoils will give significant savings and thus be an important solution to help shipping reach the IMO decarbonization goals for 2030 and 2050.

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